Colorful painting supplies and a tablet featuring the ebook "Weekend Refresh"

Trends, Recommended Reads

Read, repair & renovate: 10 must-read DIY and home improvement books


Apr 11, 2024

I enjoy a good spring cleaning, but I always get more than I bargained for. My outdoor clean up and subsequent foray to add more flowers to my yard turned into building my own paver patio and 12-foot-long planter box — but it was worth it! When doing it yourself, resources, or even just reassurances that you’re doing it right, are always helpful.

Whether you’re looking to tackle a large project, address some needed repairs, or make your space feel more like home, there’s a book that can help you figure it out and get it done. There’s also the added benefit of being able to read directions and diagrams as many times as you need before actually doing it yourself. Not all handy friends would have the same patience.

Pro tip: If any of your projects involve digging, it’ll take longer than you think. All of those books that bury bodies or dig up treasure in no time are, in fact, works of fiction. For more (useful) tips for your next project, check out these home improvement books on the Libby app.

Fix it yourself

Family Handyman Before You Call a ProFamily Handyman Before You Call a Pro by Family Handyman

In case you’re not trying to fix everything all at once (who would try such a thing?), this book is conveniently organized into sections to help you find the perfect project help for all things around your home — inside and out. There are useful pictures and tips to not only get the job done, but to make it look nice. Yes, please provide a diagram to keep my new light installation from looking like an airport runway. And of course, there’s a section, “Before you call emergency services,” to make sure you stay safe while you DIY... maybe start there.

Step up to new projects

Dare to Repair, Replace & RenovateDare to Repair, Replace & Renovate by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet

Go beyond just basic repairs to tackle home projects. Now, just because you’re going the DIY route doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Listed under “tools needed for many of these projects” is a helpful friend. Also, if you’re new to some of these project areas and don’t know all the terminology, the “tools necessary” list includes visuals as well (yes, for the helpful friend, too). If you like having as much information as possible, this guide is for (me) you! With directions as well as what ifs for each step, you’ll feel more prepared going into a project.

Take it outside

The Garden RefreshThe Garden Refresh by Kier Holmes

Extend your home outdoors to enjoy nature! I could’ve used this book for that previously mentioned patio project when I was standing next to a pile of dirt wondering what I’m supposed to do with a pile of dirt — sorry, soil. (Don’t go to a greenhouse and use the term "dirt." It’s soil and they’ll tell you as much.) With an entire section on thinking and observing, this will help you start your outdoor projects off right. The insights to various garden elements from plants to hardscapes are inspirational and helpful.

Renter resources

Safe and SoundSafe & Sound: A Renter-Friendly Guide to Home Repair by Mercury Stardust

If you’re a renter looking for repairs, this is a great resource. This guide covers more than just repairs, with considerations for finding a rental, moving, and making sure you’re covered for any damages in a rental. Helpful features include a “words to know” section and discussing what not to do before outlining what to do. This can help you avoid quick fixes that don’t work and can make things worse. The repairs and how-tos are great, but so are tips on upkeep to prevent the need for repairs later. Also, resources for tenants, such as legal considerations, makes this a very inclusive home guide for renters.

The heart, or stomach, of your home

Uncommon KitchensUncommon Kitchens by Sophie Donelson

I don’t know about you, but I spend too much time in the kitchen, mostly doing dishes, even if I eat out! The never-ending dishes may have you thinking about ways to make your kitchen work for you. This book provides inspiration and offers insight into what to consider when planning a kitchen refresh, small or large. Full of advice and interesting kitchen photos, you may find yourself spending even more time in your kitchen, dreaming of the possibilities.

Projects on a timeline

Weekend RefreshWeekend Refresh by Tastemade

Do you have décor sitting against a wall rather than hanging from it? Yeah, neither do I. If you’re looking to upgrade your space but don’t have a lot of time to spare, check out the wide array of upgrades you can complete in a weekend or less. With leveled projects, there’s a home refresh for everyone to try out. Enjoy and share your updated spaces with suggestions for entertaining, too!

Beyond the backyard

Gardening Your Front YardGardening Your Front Yard by Tara Nolan

Many people focus on their backyards, but front and side yards, as well as small backyards, can be wonderful spaces, too! Taking into account these smaller spaces with less than ideal growing conditions and high visibility, this book offers DIY ideas and tips to bring your yard to life. Curb appeal doesn’t have to be limited to a perfectly mowed lawn. It can be a beautiful vegetable garden, a wonderful water feature, or any outdoor haven you want to create. As mentioned in this title, do also check any municipal regulations or HOA guidelines so you don’t have to undo any of your hard work.

Tidy improvements

House LoveHouse Love by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller

Not every project has to change your space in big ways. Sometimes the right cleaning and organizing can make a big impact. These suggestions for ways to make your space livable and more your style can apply to anyone and any home. The 10-minute clean outline for different spaces with 10-minute playlists (choice of upbeat or mellow) make the task more manageable and fun.

Home and office

The Hardworking HomeThe Hardworking Home by Mark Johanson

As more people work and learn from home, carving out space for work within your house is a great way to make an improvement. This guide offers creative solutions and projects to find a functional space that works for you. Whether converting an entire space or dividing up already used space, find ideas and steps to create your own office space at home.

For everything else

Home Repair and ImprovementUltimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement by Charles Byers

If you have yet to find what you’re looking for, chances are it’s in here. With 325 DIY repairs and projects, this guide covers every space in and around your home. There are helpful sections for emergencies and safety and security too, to keep your improved home safe as well.

For repair help, project guidance, or simply inspiration, remember the Libby app is a handy tool in your toolbox.

RELATED READ: 25+ craft & DIY books to inspire your next project


About the Author

Tori Casper is a collection development librarian at OverDrive, where she helps public libraries build and highlight their digital collections. Outside of work and reading, she enjoys hiking, gardening, wildlife photography, and planning trips to national parks. Tori is always happy to discuss all the books with strong nature settings.


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